Industry News: XBiotech candidate True Human™ COVID-19 therapy found to target highly infectious emerging strain

21 Jan 2021


XBiotech has announced that its COVID-19 candidate True Human™ antibody therapy may also be used for treating the COVID-19 mutant virus that recently emerged in the UK and is now rapidly spreading across the US. The mutant COVID-19 virus has alterations to the spike protein that reportedly make the virus more contagious, and these mutations might also enable the virus to escape existing vaccines or therapies.

XBiotech’s candidate therapy specifically targets the so-called spike protein of the virus and potently neutralizes the virus’ ability to infect cells. The company analyzed its candidate COVID-19 therapy for its ability to bind the spike protein of the mutant COVID-19 virus and was found to have the same high affinity for spike protein of both the original COVID-19 and mutant COVID-19 viruses. These findings provide quick and convincing evidence that XBiotech’s candidate True Human™ therapy, which was potently effective in neutralizing the original strain of COVID-19, could be expected to be similarly effective at neutralizing the mutant strain of the virus.

The new mutant COVID-19 virus has undergone changes that include small differences in the so-called spike protein of the virus. Scientists at XBiotech used a state-of-the-art method employing bio-layer interferometry to analyze binding of its COVID-19 True Human™ antibody to the spike protein of the mutant strain. These studies showed the antibody bound to the mutant spike protein with same high affinity as it does to the original COVID-19 virus.

Sushma Shivaswamy, Ph.D., XBiotech’s Chief Scientific Officer, commented, “We are extremely excited that our antibody therapy has the capability of treating this new, even more contagious, strain of the virus. I applaud the hard work and dedication of our scientists who are tirelessly working to address emerging needs of this pandemic while keeping us on track to pursue other important diseases.”

The Company previously announced that its candidate True Human™ therapy for COVID-19—isolated from an actual patient that had recovered from the infection—was found to neutralize the virus at concentrations about four-times better than antibodies currently FDA approved under emergency use authorization.

The higher rate of transmission of the mutant COVID-19 virus means that it could quickly become the dominant form of the virus in the US. The CDC in fact predicts the new variant will be the main cause of COVID infections in the USA by March, 2021. A therapy that could be used to treat both COVID-19 and the mutant strains of the virus could be of crucial importance as the mutant virus spreads. The Company has engineered production capable cell lines and is prepared to establish manufacturing processes for clinical development as necessary.

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